Wired reports on Katie King’s excellent video Galactica: Sabotage, a kind of mash-up/homage to Spike Jones’ video for the Beastie Boys’ song Sabotage. The new video substitutes clips from the recently ended Battlestar Galactica series, but in a way that almost perfectly tracks the images from Jones’ original video.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original and new video.
I’m glad to see that nothing (yet) has been done to try to take down the video. The video also makes me wonder about what we mean when we use the term “mash-up.” As far as mash-ups go, Galactica: Sabotage is dissimilar to Danger Mouse’s mash-up classic Grey Album, which juxtaposed music samples from the Beatles’ White Album with vocals from Jay-Z’s Black Album. In such a mash-up, you simultaneously hear portions from both sources. It’s music with music.
However in form (but perhaps not function), Galactica: Sabotage is different. Same music, but new video clips substituted for the original. Perhaps such mash-ups by substitution are more like “smash-ups,” i.e., substitution + mash-up. Like the Grey Album, there’s still juxtaposition, but the juxtaposition is provided by what’s absent rather than by what’s present.
This substitution may significantly deepen the level of knowledge required to appreciate the smash-up. With the Grey Album, one need only know The Beatles’ original. Even if one isn’t familiar with rap, one can appreciate the juxtaposition of Jay-Z’s lyrics with The Beatles’ music. And if one is familiar with both, then the level of appreciation is much deeper.
But to be truly appreciated, the Galactica: Sabotage smash-up requires a much deeper level of knowledge. Without knowledge of the missing original images, it’s harder to appreciate how the substituted video tracks and pays homage to the original. Of course, the same might be said of Quentin Tarantino movies, which themselves pay near-continual homage to the history of film. But recognizing the homage is not a prerequisite to enjoying them.